Sideline Report: How much power does a college football team really have?

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Braden Shaw, JagWire editor-in-chief

The University of Missouri, which consists of four campuses, has come under much scrutiny lately. Reports of racial tension against students and the apathy displayed by university system president Tim Wolfe in the last few months came out, which resulted in public outcry. At the campus in Columbia, graduate student Jonathan Butler went on a hunger strike, students boycotted administration and the university caught national attention for the wrong reasons. 

The students — led by Butler — wanted Wolfe to resign for not taking action against the mistreatment of black students at the university system. It all came to a head when a group of black student athletes from Mizzou’s football team stood up and took action, going on strike in support of the movement, and even threatening to not play their next game against Brigham Young. With the football team now involved, the situation was getting serious.

The boycotting by the football team becomes a slight problem due to the revenue that the team gains throughout the season. Should the team not play this Saturday, the school would have to fork over $1 million in cancellation fees. With the potential loss of funds, the school was forced to take action.

Eventually, Wolfe resigned on Monday, along with chancellor R. Bowen Loftin agreeing to step down from his current position at the end of the year. This solved the short-term problem, ending Butler’s hunger strike and beginning the process of healing for these students. The school now has to look towards the future to fix this apparent issue on campus.

I’m not here to talk about the politics of the back-and-forth between students and faculty. But, I think it needs to be taken into account the effect that the football team had on the situation. It seemed like the sides were at a stalemate until the players came into the picture. The team made its voice be heard and made a difference in their school.

The way that this situation unfolded shows how much power a college football team can have. Finances drive the whole system, and the potential loss of $1 million forced the hand of the university. Money has corrupted colleges and the sport in general, but it’s the world that we live in now.  

I honestly hate how much money drives everything nowadays. I despise how much college football has become a business and how every major decision is based around the potential gain or loss of revenue. It drags everything out and corrupts the tradition and purity that the sport once had.

At one point, college football was the more clean-cut younger brother to the NFL, but it has now arguably become even more driven by greed, with TV mega-contracts and conference revenue shares.

But one positive that came out of this lust and greed for money was the power that the football team used. Had the football team not made its voice heard, Wolfe might still be president and #ConcernedStudent1950 would still be trending on Twitter. The team used its power for good and made a positive impact in this society driven by greed.

Clearly, college football teams have lots of influence and power at a university. The fact that it took the football team getting involved is a shame, but at least change actually occurred. Maybe someday money won’t be that much of a driving force, but I guess today’s not that day.

Junior Braden Shaw is a passionate sports fan who follows sports at both the college and professional level. He loves to defend his unpopular opinions on the University of Nebraska, Sporting KC, Chiefs and Royals and is always up for a debate over any game or team.

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